Sunday, October 15, 2017

Ireland's glorious past.

Unlike the UK, Ireland has very few quaint houses or villages. With the exception of the landed gentry, houses were of very poor standard, often built of mud or turf which doesn't stand the test of time. However, Ireland is full of ruined abbeys, friary's  monasteries and castles.
We must have viewed Roscommon Castle hundreds of times from the road, but never had time to stop and view it properly. Last week we made time as we had to go to Roscommon to get bread.
It is even more imposing than we had thought set in fourteen acres of grounds,
complete with a natural lake,

home to many waterbirds, and a swallow hole.
The castle itself is Norman, built in 1269 by Feidhlim O'Connor , king of Connaught.
We were very impressed with the ruins, and also with the access to it. Someone has put great thought into making the whole area wheelchair friendly
unlike Roscommon Abbey.

This is in fact a ruin of a Dominican Friary, built around 1290-1300.
Effigy  of the King of Connault.
What makes this particular Friary so interesting is the Royal effigy of O'Connor which is one of only two Royal effigy's in Ireland.
It's just a shame that it is impossible to get to if you are a wheelchair user.
The main purpose for our visit to Roscommon was to buy the next three weeks bread.
Molloys bakery has been in existence for nearly a hundred years and we can truly say it's the best bread either of us have had since childhood. We used to make all our own bread but were finding that the flour was too variable, sometimes the loaf would be spot on, other times it would be only OK, so when a friend recommended this bakery to us we tried it and have stuck with it. We have to go to Tesco every few weeks to stock up with Organic butter, so we kill two birds with one stone, besides exploring a place we haven't been to before.
Most of our apples have now been picked, we had a good crop of Russets, and even the Bramley tree decided to give us fruit. As Russets don't store well we have been making
Dorset Spiced Apple cake, if you can resist eating it the same day as it's cooked it improves,
the flavour becomes more intense and it remains a very moist cake. Apple crumble has also been on the menu, made with oats and flour the crumble is moreish.
Things are beginning to quieten down in the garden, we have probably had the last of the beans and peas, and are now onto winter veg.
P.S.B making up for lost time.
One thing we forgot to plant at the right time was purple sprouting broccoli, so we took a chance and sowed in the tunnel, it is now two foot high, I just hope it's not too warm in there for it and that it will still sprout.
My last two pieces of pottery started life as mugs, but then I changed my mind and they will be soup bowls, I have made two matching mugs as well but as yet they have't been carved or the handles affixed, next week hopefully.

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

Waterfalls, Loughs and Woodlands.

Now that we are retired we are able to get out and about to see the natural beauty that surrounds us. When we had the farm to even get half a day off together had to be planned like a military operation.
Now we have no such restrictions we are able to explore or revisit places of interest to us.
Last weekend we revisited the Glencar waterfalls on the border of Sligo and Co. Leitrim. We had been once before with visitors, but if I recall correctly it was a very damp day ( Irish for raining cats and dogs). Sunday was a nice dry day although not too much sunshine.
These waterfalls are well worth visiting, I  love anywhere that has water, to me it is so calming.
The noise from the cascade is deafening, the power of the water is incredible. Clearly Sligo council has woken up to the fact that these falls are a great visitor attraction and have allowed a cafe to be built.
Even this late in the year there were lots of people around and the cafe was well patronized.
From the falls we then went on to Hazelwood on the lake shore of Lough Gill, it is many years since we last visited these woods and unfortunately the beautiful wood carvings that had been there had not been maintained and are now, no more.
However the woods are still a beautiful place to visit, with lots of old trees,

many growing in unusual shapes,

and lots of fungi, most of which are not edible, but are still beautiful.
Beautiful mosses.

A grotto.
These woods are also well used, it was lovely to see so many families there with children climbing trees and generally having a good time, and feeding the water birds.
Feeding frenzy.
Fishing for trout.

Mute swan.
Common gull.
Lough Gill has the isle of Innishfree, made famous by W.B Yeats.

 I will arise and go now, and go to Innisfree,
And a small cabin build there, of clay and wattles made:
Nine bean-rows will I have there, a hive for the honey-bee;
And I shall have some peace there, for peace comes dropping
Dropping from the veils of the morning to where the cricket
There midnight’s all a glimmer, and noon a purple glow,
And evening full of the linnet’s wings.

I will arise and go now, for always night and day
I hear lake water lapping with low sounds by the shore;
While I stand on the roadway, or on the pavements grey, 
I hear it in the deep heart’s core.'And live alone in the bee-loud glade.

From the woods we then made a quick visit to
Sligo Abbey, which in fact was a Friary, built in 1253,

we didn't have time to go in, besides which it is one of the few places that charge, however we will probably return and pay to go in but not just as they are closing.
Although the fungi that we saw in Hazelwood were mainly inedible, on Saturday we did find a beautiful horse mushroom, it weighed in at just over six ounces, just right to have half each as a starter  before dinner.

Sunday, October 1, 2017

Autumn Colour.

Leycesteria formosa. Bees love the flowers.
The season is moving on very quickly, the trees are changing colour to their beautiful Autumn hues, this season seems to go so fast, once the leaves change colour you know that winter will soon be here. and if we get high winds the leaves will quickly fall. We have tried to plant our land to give all year round colour and apart from December where the only thing we have is Mahonia we have succeeded.
The Red oak is a little slow this year
but the Spindle and
Guelder rose are giving a good show,
also the Blue berries, we had grown them to give us fruit and they do give us a little, but the Autumn colour makes them worth while.
The pottery class is still going well however,
the teacher will soon be off to New Zealand for a month, I am hoping that my latest pieces will be  glazed and fired before she goes.
You never know until a piece comes out of the kiln what the final effect will be.
We are still getting Autumn Raspberries, but we have to be quick to beat the wild birds. The store cupboard and freezers are now full.
Friend and helper ready to do the butchering.
This week we again bought half a free range pig from a friend, we bought from him last year and the meat was very good, hoping that this years is as good.